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WHITE AND OFF-WHITE 223
that we British should have a taste of it, if only to be reminded
how irritating it can be.
Perhaps the most important question we might ask is :
"TVhaT do you think of the Anglo-Indiana ?'
By his answer to this question the * pukka sahib5 will probably
reveal his true mentality.
There are about 140,000 Anglo-Indians1 in India, and they are
perhaps the most luckless community in the world.
They are neither one thing nor the other. They are doomed to
lose, whether the ball ^pins black or red or zero. So intolerant is
human nature, so arrogant and illogical the mind of man, that
they are equally despised by both their half-brothers, the British
and the Indians.
Worst of all, they are despised by themselves.
Their one idea, which amounts to an obsession, is to deny their
It would be funny if it were not tragic. I once knew an Anglo-
Indian nurse. She was a nice girl, patient, efficient, and pretty
in her dusky way. There could not be a moment's doubt about
her origin, which betrayed itself in her hair, her eyes, the palms
of her hands. But to hear her talk you would think that she
could trace her pedigree back to the Plantagenets.
'These Indians,T she would cry, in contempt, when the bearer
brought the wrong medicine or the sweeper was lazy in his work.
* Really—these Indians ! One can do nothing with such people !'
Her father was British, her mother Indian. She used to show
me snapshots of herself with her father. The mother was hardly
ever in the pictures ; only once did I catch a glimpse of her, a dark
little figure hovering in the background. The page of the album
was quickly turned when that snapshot came into view.
1 The phrase Anglo-Indian is a polite euphemism for 'half-caste.9 In nine cases
gut of ten the fatner is British and the mother Indian ; there are very few instances
of British women marrying Indian men. The figure of 140,000 is certainly an
understatement, for Anglo-Indians are reluctant to proclaim themselves as such,
and show endless ingenuity in concealing then: coloured origin.